South Pacific Solar Power

We are all familiar with the large scale solar projects sweeping developed countries, producing Megawatts, if not Gigawatts of solar electricity.  But what about the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity? According to an interview in the New York Times with Michael Eckhart, the President of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Just 1 percent of the world’s solar panel production has been installed in developing countries.

We are starting to see this trend change though. Small, developing island nations, such as Vanuatu, are starting to look into new solutions to solve the ongoing problem of having to rely on diesel or kerosene to supply their basic power needs. Of the 65 inhabited islands of Vanuatu, only two main towns have power supplied through a mainstream electricity grid (Energy Unit, 2008).  About 80% of all of the population of Vanuatu live in rural villages without access to electricity.

During my visit to Vanuatu last month, I witnessed remote villages on Efate Island taking advantage of solar technology. Solar can be the ideal solution for providing power to remote areas where mainstream electricity production and distribution is either unfeasible or much too costly. With only one or two solar panels provided to a majority of huts in Epau Village (above right), residents are now able to turn on a light or run a television.

The specific project for Epau Village, pictured above, was made possible because of funding provided from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through a program known as Solar Home System (SHS) for rural-electrification. Epau village won one of four pilot projects organised and funded by JICA on Efate Island.

Written by Justine O’Neill

Residential Sales Manager

© 2011 Solar Choice Pty Ltd


  1. Hi,

    I am Ednah Iavro, a nurse by proffession. I just returned from Australia on a Cultural work exchange program.
    I am originally from Vanuatu, an island up North, Espiritu Santo.
    Seeing that water is a problem in my small community, my family had had a water source being drilled since 2012.
    We have purchased a water pump but now I am looking for a Solar panel to run that water pump. I need your help and how we can work together to install that for my community.

    Hear you soon.

    Ednah Iavro
    C/- Hog Harbour village
    Irie community
    Luganville, Santo

    1. Hi Ednah. Unfortunately we don’t operate outside of Australia, but you might want to get in touch with GSES, who do a lot of work for island nations throughout the Pacific. Their website is

      Best of luck!

  2. Just wanting to know the price of solar panels for a shop in Vanautu to run a fridge and some lights. I live australia this would be for family in Pentecost thank you for your help

    1. Hi John,

      We’re a bit confused!Is the project in Australia or Vanautu? If you’re in Australia we can help you with your solar project, including sending you a quote comparison for up to 7 installers in your local area and helping to broker the final deal. As we work with installers, as opposed to being an installer ourselves, we don’t hold any stock and are unable to quote for projects outside of the country.

      If the project is in Vanautu we would recommend researching manufacturers of solar panels and inverters, then contacting them to establish whether they can provide you with product and if there is a local supplier.

      Good luck with your project.

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